Biden bolstered by Republican support for his pandemic response: poll

Nearly a majority of Republicans approve of President Biden's handling of COVID, boosting him to 63% support total

By Jon Skolnik
Published May 10, 2021 11:40AM (EDT)
US President Joe Biden tours the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 19, 2021. (ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden tours the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 19, 2021. (ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Nearly 50% of Republicans approve of President Biden's handling of the pandemic, according to a new poll released by The Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Released on Monday, the poll found that 71% of all Americans currently approve of Biden's handling of the pandemic, with his overall approval rating sitting at 63%. Among Republicans, in particular, researchers found that 47%, —a near majority — support Biden's pandemic response. 

The poll also found that Americans are less worried about the pandemic than they've ever been since February of 2020, before lockdowns and quarantines took hold in the U.S. "About half of Americans say they are at least somewhat worried that they or a relative could be infected with the virus, down from about 7 in 10 just a month earlier," the AP noted

"We're getting there," said Jeff Zients, the White House's COVID-19 response czar, recently. "And the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter and brighter."

More broadly, 54% of Americans say that the country is "on the right track," which is higher than AP has reported since 2017. 

Nevertheless, a strong partisan divide remains surrounding the risk of infection. About 69% of Democrats reported being at least somewhat worried about becoming infected, while only 33% of Republicans had the same concern. 

According to CNBC, about a third of all Americans are vaccinated, with infection rates falling in thirty states throughout the country. However, vaccination rates have gone down from 3.4 million per day on April 13 to 2.1 million per day last week. With 45,000 new cases daily, the Biden administration still faces hurdles in encouraging the American public to get vaccinated despite public distrust around the shot, particularly amongst pro-Trump conservatives, according to the Washington Post. As the Post reported: "Among those who say they don't plan to get the vaccine, half say they trust Trump's advice a lot or somewhat — far more than the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the country's top infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci."

According to a Gallup poll from late March, those who are least interested in getting immunized are also least likely to follow public health guidelines, like social distancing.

The AP-NORC poll also found that a sharp partisan gap in public sentiment surrounding Biden's recent handling of the economy. About 91 percent of Democrats back his economic policies, but only 19 percent of Republicans can say the same. 

The findings come on the heels of a recent jobs report, which revealed a marked bust from last month, as Salon reported. About 266,000 jobs were added to the economy and the unemployment rate rose from 6 to 6.1 percent. Economists from financial data provider Refinitiv otherwise expected the economy to add 978,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to fall to 5.8 percent. Many conservatives have speculated that unemployment insurance has engendered a lack of willingness amongst Americans to rejoin the workforce – guesswork that Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen disputed

The AP-NORC poll also surveyed Americans on issues like immigration, gun control, and foreign policy. About 43 percent of Americans approve of Biden's immigration policies; 48 percent approve of his Biden's approach to guns; and 54 percent say they back the President's foreign policy.

Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, AlterNet, and The New York Daily News.

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